Episode 92 of the podcast is a special one. For starters, this interview took place in the same place (and the same table) as my very first interview for DrumGAB and one of the three guests featured in this episode was Archie, who was the first person I ever interviewed for the podcast. So that is a lot of firsts that are being revisited for this episode. I guess I could go one step further by stating that this was my first "true" roundtable interview. So, now that's out of the way, I will now introduce the guests.
John Huff, Nicholas Elie, and Archie Gamble were the gentlemen who joined me at the table at The Scots Corner bar for this session. Each of them has a history of playing in London, ON, including myself. They all have their own unique perspectives and experiences with gigging, the scene, and forging a career with music.
John has been playing professionally for about six years, while he has played drums for much longer than that he had decided six years ago to pursue drumming as more of a vocational activity than simply a hobby. He is about to head out on a European tour with Sarah Smith and he is also responsible for writing a blog as well. The blog is the reason why I invited John to the table, as some of his thoughts that he writes were fodder for a good chunk of this interview. You can check at the bottom of these notes to read up on his blog.
Next is Nicholas who is currently drumming for the group Nimway. I have been buddies with Nicholas for several years (even in the audio clips featured in this episode you can hear Nick's voice several times). Just to indicate something to listeners, those musical snippets were recorded on my iPhone (yes just a phone) a few years ago in an attic where both myself and many other local bands used to rehearse in (oh the many times I have been up there over the years). In any case, those were improvised jams that we recorded one night for fun and I held onto them over the years and decided to insert them into this episode. Anyways, back to Nick. So Nick is a drummer's drummer. He is a passionate player who simply loves to play. He has been involved in many projects over the years and while he is often found performing around London, he does not consider it his vocation. He is a lot like me that way where he just wants to create musical projects and gig here and there and have fun, while of course being compensated for his time. But he has a day job and is content with just having music as part of his life but not his sole source of income.
Finally, we have Archie. So Archie has been gigging professionally since 1984. That is 34 years....and he has been playing drums for 41 years. In London, Archie is one of the most respected and admired players around and gigging has been Archie's primary source of income since he began his career in music. He has no education, no savings, no retirement plan, and now he is beginning to experience the trials and hardships of being a musician primarily. He recently turned 50 years old and he acknowledges that this was a big deal for him as he looked around at his life and what it consists of at this very moment. Looking to diversify and find a way to survive on music alone is at the forefront of his mind when considering his professional life. It is in some ways, bitter sweet. Archie has been through many incredible experiences that drumming and music provided to him, but on the other side of the coin it has left him with very little to sustain himself unless he gets a normal day job and he damn near refuses to do that. Think about it, he has never worked a normal day job in his life. Why would he ever want to start at 50!?
So having these three at the table provides an incredibly broad point of view that is rooted in considerable amounts of experience. Between all four of us at the table there is a century worth of experience with drumming. We discuss the industry, the scene locally in London, self-doubt, taking chances, our futures, and some realities to this life we choose to live. All in all, this is an episode that I felt I had to make. I was once very much a part of this music scene in London and then one day decided that I would try to make something on my own and look outside of this city for the results I was wanting. To create something for myself that involved something I knew I really connected with and I decided to call it DrumGAB. Two years later it feels good to reconnect with some folks in a place I know all too well to discuss some topics that I know are on people's minds. Big thanks again to John, Nicholas, and Archie for their time and honest input towards this interview. There are loads of takeaways from this one and it is presented in a way that is totally different from other episodes in the podcast's catalog.
Rich Stitzel is native to Texas but currently lives in Chicago and has been gigging professionally for in and around 25 years. He lives a fast-paced life in the world of music and is the definition of a musician on the grind.
Rich has played just about every type of gig imaginable and has seen a lot in his career which makes him such an incredible person to interview. He reminds us that even though we can become familiar with the hustle and different gigging situations, we also have no idea what each day may bring and how we have to respond.
He is responsible for creating the DrumMantra series and has recently developed his DrumMantra 3030 (30 minutes/day for 30 days) curriculum. He is specialized in polymeter rhythms and is completely enamored with rhythmic concepts.
NOTICE: Jeremy is putting together a fundraiser called "Beats for a Cause. Check out the link below to learn more about this fundraiser. He is trying to raise money to help fire victims in the Carr fires that are happening in Northern California.
Jeremy "Walrus" Schulz is a teaching coach, professional drummer, and educator based out of Brooklyn, NY. He has performed and toured with bands such as Barbie Car and Mother Crone.
Jeremy shares some very compelling stories about how he started playing drums (this is maybe the most fascinating thing ever said in the show's history) and how music education, drumming, and working with his instructor Steve Smith (no not the Journey one) at Seattle Drum School of Music played a major role in his massive change of direction in life.
We hear about a lot of concepts that Jeremy uses in his day to day life that help him live a more purposeful life. I am certain that this episode will inspire anyone who listens to it.
Jeremy also wanted to offer the DrumGAB podcast community a 30% discount on his program. Listen at the very end of the episode to check out what he has been generous enough to offer listeners.
Reuben Spyker is a drummer from Abbotsford, BC who is an employee at Drumeo and also just released his own album titled "Forward" as the Reuben Spyker Quartet.
This episode of the podcast focuses on Reuben's creative process with improvisation, and why he needs to be in "the zone" with his music. We talk about how this album came to be and the process in recording the album, which was totally improvised with a group of musicians that had never played as a complete group together before and was captured live off the floor in a continuous five-hour recording session. Reuben then chopped it up and made it into an album and the results are fantastic. It is highly textural, organic, and executed with a strong command from each of the four musicians on their respective instruments. The conversation we had regarding the creative process was fun and interesting, as improv is Reuben's preferred method of performance.
Reuben is also an employee of Drumeo. His title is "community manager" so he handles emails, communicating with the members, helping Dave with his workload, making the guest instructors feel comfortable as they stay at the facility, and quite a few other tasks including developing lessons and so on. How he got involved with Drumeo was over the course of many years, in fact, because Reuben and Jared both live in Abbotsford and have for several years, they have been associated for quite a long time. But over the course of several run-ins and Reuben's interest in the company, eventually Reuben found his opportunity with the company and this has made him very happy with his situation career-wise. But there was a big question surrounding this. Whether it is a cop-out to serve another's dream. Whether it is better for all of us to become entrepreneurs and be our own boss, rather than working for someone else. Both Reuben and I have our thoughts about this and the dialogue surrounding this may help others feel more at peace with themselves if being an entrepreneur isn't in your wheelhouse. It takes the focus away from the noise we all see online where it seems like a trend to be an entrepreneur and that we shouldn't fuel the dreams of others, but rather our own.
Overall, this is among the stronger episodes in the DrumGAB library, if you ask me. It is refreshing, thoughtful, funny, and certainly entertaining. Below are links to listen to Reuben's new album "Forward".